Kampala Student Center: Now a Shadow of Its Past

For many years Kampala Students Center was among the best and most popular learning areas in Kampala attracting students for both O and A ‘level studies. Established in 1990, Kampala Students Center offered both flexible and affordable education, especially, to mature students.  

It also gave opportunities to the less privileged, and those rejected from other schools. For the center that it was, one would anticipate tremendous improvements in terms of performance, enrollment, and infrastructure over time. However, Makerere Kivulu-based center along Gaddafi road- a few meters from Makerere University is characterized by a crumbling toilet and an old structure that houses classrooms and administrative offices among others.  

Inside the Director’s office, visitors are welcomed with a big album filled with pictures of former students who have risen to become prominent persons in different areas. “All those you are seeing are our former students”, Joseph Barigeya the Director of Kampala Student center told our reporters before pulling out a bench for them to sit on. One of the key figures who graces the pictures is the Kampala Lord mayor, Erias Lukwago.

“It is unfortunate that much as the school has produced that manpower which is very productive to the community, we have not been helped,” Barigeya noted. Available records indicate that at its peak, the Kampala Student center would enroll hundreds of candidates. However, in this academic year, the center only enrolled 70 candidates, 40 in senior four and the remaining in senior six. As a matter of fact, the center is on the verge of closure because of poor enrollment.

Andrew Lyaguba, a former student who now heads the center, says the center is currently at its lowest point since it opened. “Those who know this school can tell you that it was among the best that we had. We produced many students nearly in all professions. Our old boys are everywhere,” Lyaguba said recalling the old golden days when the school became famous.  

Indeed, many people attest to the fact that Kampala Student center was a powerhouse that used to outperform any school during the seminars that were arranged to prepare candidates for their final exams. The center outperformed many well-established and prestigious schools during the final exams.

It is because of this past legacy that a few students still choose it. Hanifa Ayikoru, one such student from the Kampala student center told URN that she was attracted by the school’s long history of producing many successful people and looks up to such people in order to become successful herself. She has studied at the school since her senior.   “I could have gone to any other school, but I had role models who passed through this school. They studied from here, such people made me get the courage to join the school,” Ayikoru whom our reporter interviewed while writing her final examinations for the Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education-UACE said.  

She has been offering History, Economics, and Geography. At Kampala student center ordinary-level students pay Shillings 350,000 per term and Shillings 400,000 for Advanced level per term, which is pee nuts compared to what other schools are changing. Although the fees are lower, students don’t pay thus limiting the capacity of management to pay teachers and develop the school.

While at the school, URN learned that the school doesn’t have a staff salary structure. The school has 26 teachers, 10 of whom are living at the school. However, none of them earns a salary. Barigeya says that the center only survives on former students who come back to offer teaching services for nearly no pay.

Barigeya explains that in order to ensure the survival of the center, which is also a public good, he has submitted numerous proposals to the central government and Kampala Capital City Authority for help. He, however, says that both are yet to come to their rescue.  

What befell Kampala Student Center?

Dr. Gerald Walulya, a lecturer in the Department of Journalism and Communication at Makerere University is one of the old students.  Walulya, just like many other old students, is concerned about the poor state of his Alma mater.

He says that what made the school strong is the fact that its proprietor wasn’t money orientated as he focused on delivering a service, which partly explains its collapse. The Makerere don also points out that the center also suffered some maladministration as some of the past head teachers including relatives of the director, robbed the center, which the proprietor realized late.

Walulya says that although the center is private, it would be a monumental undertaking to salvage and restore it to its past glory. According to Walulya, since the center is community-based, the onus is entirely on the people who passed there to unite and get back the school to its glory.

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